For several years, Hungarian asylum system has been infamous for its practices of detaining refugees in closed prison camps or, on the other hand, throwing people on the street, without any place to stay. At Debrecen in the east of Hungary is located one of the biggest refugee camps in the country, with both open camp section and closed detention camp. Saturday, 17th of May 2014, Debrecen has been in the focus of bringing this systematic violation of freedom and basic human rights and also refugees’ resistance against this system to public attention: Around 50 people living in the open section of the camp, together with a group of Hungarian and international activists who came by bus from Budapest, came together for a protest rally in front of the refugee camp. Major demands: Stop of detention of refugees in Hungary, but also an end to bad living conditions and abuses taking place in open camps, too. Again and again, people from the refugee camp and the visitors from outside held speeches and shouted slogans for freedom, interrupted by music and dancing. The most touching moment was when the demonstration moved to a point opposite the outside walls of the closed detention camp, so that people inside this prison could see and hear it. Many of the prisoners, in turn, shouted and waved from inside – a moment of solidarity as well as of helplessness against the physical power of barbed wires and prison walls. For many of the people living in the open asylum camp, the detention section is not an unknown place: They have been inside detention at Debrecen or other camps, often for months, after being arrested by Hungarian border guards, after being deported to Hungary from other EU-countries based on Dublin-rule, as a form of intimidation and punishment by the authorities. It is said that people with supposedly bad chances in the asylum trial are more likely to be detained, but in general, the decision of who will be sent to a closed camp is a totally arbitrary one, working as a threat upon all asylum seekers in Hungary. Many of the refugee protesters had stories to tell about their sad and cruel experiences inside detention camps at Debrecen and other places, like Nyírbator or Békéscaba: Stories about being systematically beaten and maltreated by prison guards, some of them showing traces of injuries on their bodies. Or stories about people psychologically traumatized and broken inside detention. While many refugees at Debrecen have experienced Dublin deportation to Hungary, often from Austria or Germany, it also became evident that at the same time, many people fear being deported out of Hungary, especially to Bulgaria, based on Dublin-rule, too. Several people pointed out that in Bulgaria, like in Hungary, it is common for Asylum seekers to be detained, while those who are „free“ are left homeless on the streets, without any kind of accommodation or support from the Bulgarian state.
This short day of protest, a day of joyful coming together, of rising up for freedom, but also of sharing harmful and traumatising experiences, ended with cordial farewell and confident motivation among the participants that further steps of protest need to follow.
ACT AGAINST DETENTIONS AND DEPORTATIONS! ABOLISH DUBLIN! NO BORDER, NO NATION! UNITE AGAINST INJUSTICE!